Frank Black & The Catholics (S/T), Pixies - Live at BBC, Breeders - Last Splash LP Reviews


PIXIES - Live At The BBC

BREEDERS - Last Splash

One of life's great disappointments has been the standard of post-Pixies material produced by the principals involved in that great band. This is best illustrated by the fact that the best album here (just) is the Pixies - Live at the BBC.

 Following on from last year's greatest hits, this album is a more esoteric look at the Pixies and as such is probably a more representative collection. What's surprising about this album is that none of the songs here sound weedy, they all sound just as cool and invigorating as the originals. Most noteworthy tracks for Pixies collectors are the opening Beatles cover 'Wild Honey Pie' and the closing 'In Heaven', being the first studio versions of these songs. The band's career is well covered with tracks from most LP's, although not curiously 'Surfer Rosa', but with a surprising emphasis on the later albums, surprising because I'd not noticed this until I counted! What counts against this album is that too many of the tracks sound very similar to their recorded incarnations although one or two, particularly 'Is She Weird' definitely sound more garagey. Nevertheless a worthy addition to the Pixies collection.

And a good pointer to just what has gone wrong with former Pixies' mainman, Frank Black (as is now). His new album 'Frank Black & The Catholics' is simply a slightly rawer take on his previous album, whatever that was called. (I can't be bothered to check.) 'FB&TC' boasts a fine raw sound (it should do as it was recorded straight to 4 track) but over the piece the songs kinda run together, whereas the previous album, whilst not so raw, was more varied. There is some good stuff here 'Back to Rome', 'You Gotta Move' and 'All My Ghosts' BUT how can a former Pixie record something so damn straightforward. This is alt. rock with no kinks, no twists, no future.

By contrast the Breeders' 'Last Splash' has all the kinks and twists that one could ask for. Yeah I know it's ancient, but I've only recently bought it because ... well I'm not sure why it took so long. 'Divine Hammer', the second single, was certainly one reason as it was just too poppy and the continued recycling of 'Do You Love Me Now?' may also have contributed but I got here in the end and that's all that counts eh?

Certainly the finest post-Pixies effort 'Last Splash' is pretty damn fine indeed. The first single 'Cannonball' is a far better indicator of this LP than 'Divine Hammer' and in many ways its constituent parts are a microcosm of the whole album, a bit of pop, noise, heavy rock and weirdness rolled into a damn fine song. In fact dime fan tunes comprise a whole lot of this album - 'Invisible Man', 'No Aloha', 'Do You Love Me Now?' and 'I Just Wanna Get Along' for four. Oh and the opener 'New Year'. And just to prove that I do listen to second halves of albums (reading music paper reviews I was always suspicious that a large number seemed to mention only songs from the first side - is this why first sides are usually better than second sides? the short attention span, roughly fifteen minutes, of some drugged out music hack?) Er where was I? oh yes, 'Drivin' On' is COUNTRY and is as much of a contrast to the rest of the album as the Kim penned 'Silver' was to 'Doolittle'. The album also hints at the interest of the Deal sisters in heavy rock. 'SOS' the instrumental is veryshort and verypixies.

So it's varied, it's got more than enough twists in it and it's got ten times more life in it than its predecessor the ever so slightly stilted 'Pod' ever had - it's a classic. Kim Deal where are you now?

So three albums from the same blood line, one an indication of past glories, another a brave and largely successful attempt to match these glories and one a decent record which frankly is a pale shadow of past glories.

Pixies Index *** Breeders Index *** Frank Black Index